Shrimp Paste known as Kapi in Thailand, Terasi in Indonesia, Belacan in Malaysia and Hom Ha in China is an integral and indispensable ingredient in S.E. Asian cooking. Shrimp Paste has a unique pungent aroma, which many people find distasteful but when used in cooking this smell dissipates completely and adds a rich flavour to food. The smell of Shrimp Paste can vary enormously between the different brands but none can be described as pleasant. The colour and texture of Shrimp Paste also varies between the different brands and also between the countries in which it is made. Shrimp Paste is available in Asian Supermarkets in plastic tubs or jars and is usually sealed with a layer of wax, which must be removed, to seal in the “freshness”. In Asian markets, Shrimp Paste can be purchased from vendors with huge mounds of Shrimp Paste on display which is sold by weight.
Shrimp Paste is made by pounding tiny shrimps with sea salt and leaving them to decompose and ferment. They are then laid out on mats in the sun to dry. Shrimp Paste is raw when you buy it and must be cooked before use. Shrimp Paste is used in many curry pastes and sauces in Asia and can also be made into a dipping sauce.